Spice Up Your Life; I'm Stoned and Ranting About Generational Differences
Look, I know I’ve been writing on some pretty heavy stuff lately.
I just feel like the world’s on fire and I’m on fire, so I might as well start some fights I’ve been meaning to have while society collapses. And before you get on me like, “Arlene, there are healthier ways to express your anger-” are there? Because I’ve found quieter ways to express my rage, usually leading to some sort of self-limiting to unhealthy degrees- alcohol, working out too much, sports. I get so wound up after competition that it takes me a long time to settle down, and usually, I’ve lost my mind and purposely broken someone in a creative way. I’ve ruined a few soccer scholarships in my day. No, writing for a blog that will never be read outside of the few people who know me is working, right now anyway. So the blog continues, even if no one is actually reading any of this. Screaming into the void seems like the healthiest way to process everything that’s going on societally and in my personal life- along with a nice wake-and-bake session to start the day, and maybe a little hit at night to wind down.
Weed is the Lord’s gift to humankind. During the pandemic, when I was alone in my studio apartment and sick as hell for over a month, I was in the process of drinking myself away. I had picked up the habit during grad school of a glass of whiskey at night before bed, to numb leg pain from multiple ACL surgeries, and then again in the morning to smooth my waking up process. Sleep has always been a problem for me- until a friend, mid-COVID lockdown, dropped off a huge bag of weed and told me to stop drinking. I spread that out over a two-week period and dried myself out. Since then, I’ve managed to get off birth control and balance my hormones, find and keep a regular workout routine, get more than 4 hours of sleep a night (my current average is 7!), save a stupid amount of money, and lose a ton of weight- I’m also way nicer than I used to be, all thanks to weed.
What’s also great is getting high and putting on a playlist. You can actually force a conversation with God if you draw a hot bath, hotbox the room, and listen to Frozen 2’s “Show Yourself” on repeat for at least an hour. She’ll show up, pissed off as all get out, but you’ll get a conversation in, for those seeking a quick connection to the divine. Music is already magic, but a stoned listening session is an excellent way to spend an evening. I used to listen to a lot of 90s alt-rock, 80s hairbands and guitar solos, and what one of my siblings calls “Slit Your Wrists Sad Girl Music” from the 00s, but when I’m high, anything and everything started being interesting. And, I rediscovered my love of The Spice Girls.
The Millenial Generation has a few subsets within it, just from socioeconomic status, internet availability, and physical location differences. One of these is my subset, “The Spice Girls Generation”. In between the battle of the boy bands, The Spice Girls were these funny, fearless, and joyful people that we could all scream and dance to. I loved Scary Spice, but when my sister wasn’t playing I got to be Sporty Spice- she kicks things, it’s great. It’s a very specific part of the Millennial generation. We’re the part of Millenials that not only remember the world before the internet & technology took over completely, but also grew up in lockstep with that evolving technology. We were latchkey kids for a moment- there were no garage codes, and we either had to use our house key or go to the neighbors to unlock the door if we beat Mom or Dad home after school. We would go to the payphones after practice and collect calls home, only to scream “ARLENENEEDSARIDEHOMEPLEASE” when the robot asked my name, so my parents could avoid paying for the call and still know to come get me. That only lasted a few months because pay-per-text & call-minute phones were created during that time. I’m pretty sure our Nokia is still alive somewhere, bulletproof and waiting for the robot to take over. My dad was very upset when his Blackberry and Palm Pilot fell out of style.
We got kicked off the computer because my dad would home office and he needed the phone line open for a call. We can replicate the dial tone sound and all our tech was see-through, tinted plastic because everyone wanted to pretend they could afford an Apple computer (or maybe they actually could, which was a big sign that you were hanging out with someone of a different income bracket). And the rumors are true- packs of young girls in the 90s and 00s would kill Saturday evenings going onto chat rooms and baiting pedophiles, it was the funniest shit on the planet since it was the only place where adults and kids were equal and the currency was how quick you were with your chat skills. I definitely saw shit I should not have for my age and I think it’s one of the reasons everyone in my generational subset seems exhausted all the time- we were the guinea pigs for the constant barrage of terrifying information and lies that the media decided to release in a deluge and burnt out. We were raised on flash video sites like Ebaum’s World, Homestar Runner, Albino Blacksheep, New Grounds, and more before YouTube came in and swept the video market clean. We’re the bridge between Technology Immigrants, our parents and teachers and everyone else before us, and Technology Natives, you End-Cusp Millenials, Gen-Z, and Generation Alpha humans after us.
You Tech Natives really have no context at all for how different the world was, and the Technology Immigrants still haven’t totally acknowledged just how bad things have gotten since unregulated tech has been allowed to consume every moment of our lives. It’s like trying to talk to people stuck in a rotting past and trying to conserve it because they have no other ideas, while the other side of the table is shackled to and screaming about a horrifying future that’s quartering them, and we’ve just been the middle child, getting quartered and submerged in rot, trying to eat their dinner so they can be excused from everyone being wrong and loud about it. We just want to solve the problems, we’re so fucking tired of the constant fighting. I’m loving Gen-Z’s evolution, and watching weird-ass Gen-Alpha finally start coming into the public sphere is a dream- but I’m hoping we can get a better trajectory for both generations’ futures. You guys really need to find a way to break from the screen time, your social skills are absolute fucking trash. And not to say Boomers have any social skills- on the contrary, they’re the reason you’re all choosing digital life over trying to do or say anything in real, public life. I’ve already acknowledged the struggle of getting older in a previous blog post, so I feel no shame in saying these old people have zero excuses for the way they act in public. Admonishing and attacking people for having different ideas, freaking out over small mistakes by others but refusing to acknowledge the damage they’ve personally done to others- and refusing to give up an inch of power, even after they illegally seized it. No one in the Boomer era knows what it means to be held accountable or clean up their mess. And please, for the love of God, Tech Natives- learn the difference between Boomers and Gen-X. Gen-X is full of the first people to be terrorized by the Boomers- they are so exhausted and just need help with fighting back. They were so outnumbered, and have had to live with those assholes the longest. Cut them some slack. Millennials tried to push back too, but again- we’ve been purposely whacked with every bit of legislation and Puritan restrictions possible whenever we tried to say or do anything. We’re so glad you’re here, but please do not lash out at us- we’ve been doing this longer, and with more obstacles. Don’t be a fucking prick.
See, The Spice Girls Subset of the Millenial Generation was in Middle School, Junior High, and High School (with a dose of college-aged students) during Y2K, the Bush/Gore presidential race, the New Millenium (it was a huge deal, everyone lost their shit in 1999 & 2000), and then 9/11. If you watch movies that came out from 1992-1999, there’s an easier body language and communication pattern between actors. Also, go and read reviews- people were saying what they wanted, we were not entirely a Puritan, fear-based culture like what’s taken over. There were still Third Places (spaces outside of home & work for people to congregate at) that allowed people to just be people in public- now, that has been moved to the digital realm and monetized, contributing to the isolation and depression rampant in our culture. I mean, you used to have to be good at live performance to get a record deal. Now, it’s all moved to popularity contests and marketing to the highest bidder. But everything was not better in the past, no- Jerry Springer was really, really popular for a reason and I’m glad we’ve moved beyond that time period. I just wish we could keep some of the good stuff from that time and bring it into our present reality.
Everyone has a 9/11 story, but I think it’s such a big deal for the Spice Girls generation in particular because we really were just kids when it happened- which means we all grew up very quickly and seemed to all snap ‘online’ at a similar time, in the days and weeks that followed the event. I had a dermatology appointment that day, so I already knew I was leaving my middle school class early- I had misheard my mom and doctor, who had biopsied my moles so our insurance would cover getting them taken out of my face, and believed I had cancer. So when other kids started being taken out of class earlier in the day than me and we watched “Science Court” instead of having Math class, I thought I was responsible for spreading contagious cancer through the class and that everyone was mad at me for getting them sick. When my older sister was in the car to come with me for the appointment, I thought I’d given her cancer too. When I was crying in the back of the car after Mom wouldn’t let us switch the radio over to Queen or The Spinners or Dean Martin from some guy talking about ‘history’ again and again and I had finished the book “Jeremy Thatcher; Dragon Hatcher” and was sad he would (spoiler alert) never get to see his dragon again, I really had no clue what was going on. My poor dermatologist had to explain to me not only did I not give my whole class cancer because that’s not how cancer works (and I didn’t even have cancer anyway, so he also had to explain medical insurance too), but domestic terrorism is a thing I need to think about now and that’s why everyone was sad today. I figured everyone would explain to me what was happening if I needed to know stuff and calm down eventually, but that was not the case. I showed up for school the next day in my lime green soccer jersey- because it was team spirit day on the calendar, and that was the team I was on. I had a teacher send me to the Lost and Found to get ‘an appropriate shirt’ to match the sea of red, white, and blue that flooded the hallways. When 9/11 happened, everyone was scared and started screaming and shoving politics in places it had never been before- and we haven’t calmed down since. We went from normal commercials to 24/7 Fourth of July/ Memorial Day/ Labor Day reruns and politics and flags everywhere. We used to be able to have opinions and dialogue- then, suddenly, everyone was ‘too scared’ to respect each other and felt validated attacking anyone who was different from them. We’ve actually revved up the anxiety from that moment on, all to make money for the 24-hour news cycle that’s taken over.
This is not a world for Spice Girls to exist- this is a world that can’t even imagine what it’s like to relax. That’s why weed has been such a game-changer for me. It helps me remember when I was relaxed, when I blasted Spice Girls with my friends and danced around. Things were bad, sure. But we’d figure it out. Without the additional layer of fear and hatred lacquered onto every bit of media, it was easier to focus on solving problems instead of finding someone to blame or attack for the issue. So when I smoke and dance around like a lunatic, kicking like Sporty Spice and making faces like Mel B., I’m reminding myself that there is a way forward- the only way we lose is if we let the fear make us helpless. In 2003, the amount of daily information generated alongside technology changed the human race- according to Eric Schmidt in an article from 2010, “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003,” and, in the U.S., it was used to spy on citizens under the lie of the Iraq war. Google had refused to merge with Apple, everyone was getting pushed onto the new broadband internet, and iTunes had launched. I was in typing classes and cursive classes at school and we were being yelled at that we wouldn’t be carrying around calculators all day, so we needed to learn how to do math in our heads. Every year someone would point out cellphones had calculators and every year that Math teacher would go on a class-long rant. We love starting fights on syllabus day.
When No Child Left Behind started affecting the grades right below me, I knew I was lucky to be part of that bridge generation. Teachers had been anxious before, but every year we were doing fewer and fewer projects and learning, and instead just preparing for different standardized tests for funding. It was more profitable for school administrators to feed diagnostics to robots and let the politicians decide the worth based on test numbers than to just fund kid’s learning by the head, divorcing it from property taxes. A foster kid with a learning disability living in a trailer park in Oklahoma deserves the same support, funding, and resource availability as some over-scheduled rich kid in the suburbs at an elite public school. Kids shouldn’t be punished for being born into certain zip codes, but bullshit like Funding by Testing Performance is a purposely harmful tactic- and I’ve seen the effect in my lifetime. They eroded education on purpose, and now it’s full of literal shootings and overworked probably one of the most important professions to a functioning society- which was the point of the legislation. Rot the system from within so privitized solutions become the only option. The Capitalists won that battle, and Sandy Hook, Uvalde, and the rest of these schools that are warzones are the result of their tactics.
But we can’t fix anything, education or tech information gathering or just the anxiety level allowed to pervade in our news media, until we remember what it felt like to relax. Remember when the government didn’t have troves of information on private citizens, when people could actually buy a comfortable home on one working-class income, when we actually had freedom of speech protected enough to stand up to fascists and bullies in public? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Now, it’s all owned by the corporations. Our country has become a company town. Black Rock owns the land, and banks like Wells Fargo are pulling out of the mortgage lending business so they can just buy homes directly and rent them out at whatever price they desire. Never mind that the internet is privatized, so if you can’t pay whatever provider has illegally claimed your block, you can’t get access to most of human society and communication apparatuses. Physical and Digital ownership for individuals is a laughable idea- how would the corporations make money off of that? Subscription services only.
Basically, we’re the generation that remembers a time before Neoliberalism had taken over our democracy and turned it into an oligarchy controlled by the wealthy. We used to pay for something once- now companies can turn off your appliances if you don’t subscribe to their ongoing services. And while we don’t want to go back to the 90s and early 2000s, it’s a good idea to remember the past to illuminate the future. If you don’t have any reference for that past as a Technology Native, I have some ways you can learn-
Lock your phone away for the weekend and log out of all your computer apps. Put everything on silent, do not look at a screen for 48 hours.
Go play outside. Do not come in when your mom calls you in for dinner the first time- you can catch a few fireflies before then.
Watch “Fern Gully”, “The Brave Little Toaster”, or episodes of “The Crocodile Hunter” on a TV- with a VHS or DVD if possible. Never wonder again why so many leftists, socialists, and communists are also Spice Girls fans.
Read a library book under the covers with a flashlight. You can also play Pokemon on a Gameboy Color if you have one, just make sure you have extra batteries.
Only pay for things in cash the entire time.
For Technology Immigrants, you have some different tasks to understand everyone younger than you-
I need all of you to take the weekend and learn basic computer skills. If you can’t handle your documents, you have to retire from your 6-figure job. Save or convert your own PDF, Chuck.
Times are harder for younger people and if a single one of you complains that the youth isn’t working hard enough, give your house and retirement away and get a new job, without any contacts, and buy a new house without leveraging your old one. Play the system like a new player, rather than someone who’s had years to hoard resources. Go on. See what it’s like.
I need you all to try spices in your cooking. I need you all to become non-practicing Boomers and try new things without giving commentary or insight- you don’t have any experience we want to hear, we promise. Just try the new things and shut up.
Check yourselves, because a lot of us are tired and ready to wreck you when you talk without thinking first. You guys burned the planet for profit and we need to clean up the mess, stop pretending like your ‘hurt feelings’ from being held accountable supersede the literal dumpster fire you’ve converted the planet into.
Learn how to apologize and start cleaning up your mess of a life before you finally lay in the grave. Is this really what you want to be remembered like? Be better.
But, whether you’re a technology immigrant or native, we in the Spice Girls generation have one requirement for everyone- you have to become yourself. Once you start making your own choices, the herd mentality can’t keep scaring you into whatever new fad will make the machine money. Figure out who you are, even if that is a stoner blog writer with rage issues who listens to the same 20 sad girl songs on repeat perpetually. That’s just the kind of spice I am. You can spice up your own life any way you want, once you know who you are.
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